(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today said Department of Defense (DoD) failed to address key concerns outlined by the union and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about the Pentagon’s new National Security Personnel System (NSPS). AFGE says DoD Pentagon merely hoodwinked the House of Representatives which last week passed the new personnel system as part of the FY2009 Defense Authorization bill.
Earlier this year as part of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2008) Congress placed some limitations on DoD’s ability to impose NSPS on employees and restored collective bargaining rights under 5 U.S.C. Chapter 71. “The Defense Department did an end run around Congress’ original intent, slipped its new regulations into the Defense Authorization bill and included provisions absolving itself of oversight and increasing its ability to indiscriminately affect employee pay,” said John Gage, AFGE national president.
“Further these new regulations do nothing to address the critical failures inherent in the system,” he added. “NSPS is still vague. It still lacks transparency. And, it is still a clear attempt to weaken the ability of employees to have a real voice at the workplace.”
Gage said the union is particularly disturbed because many of the issues AFGE sought to correct were outlined in studies by GAO and subsequently ignored in DoD’s final regulations. In a May 2007 survey, GAO found that employees currently under NSPS had significant changes in their attitude toward the new system.
According to the study, employees who believe the system will have a positive effect have fallen from 40 percent in 2006 to 23 percent in 2007. Likewise, employees who agreed that their performance appraisal was a fair reflection of their performance dropped from 67 percent in 2006 to 52 percent in 2007.
“Once again the Department of Defense has failed to act in good faith,” said Gage. “Everyone knows what the problems are. They have just decided to stick their heads in the sand and move forward anyway.”
In an additional report in September 2008, GAO found that the NSPS guidance system could have the effect of discouraging rating officials from making meaningful distinctions in employee ratings because it indicated that the majority of employees should be rated at the “3” level, resulting in a hesitancy to award ratings in other categories.
“We are committed to exercising every avenue available to beat back this system, but a key turning point will come on November 4. We know that Senator McCain is right on board with the flawed and failed policies of the Bush Administration and we know that Senator Obama represents a sea change,” Gage concluded.